…That you always have more partners than you think you do.
…That sometimes there are more obstacles than the ones that you’ve already anticipated.
…That you ALWAYS have more to learn.
This latest iteration of ShapingNJ funding and the associated technical support have been very useful to our Department in meeting both the objectives of the grant as well as some of the objectives in our Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP). For this grant, our objective was to clear additional land for gardening plots at the Oakeside Community Gardens. We were very successful in that endeavor, by creating eight (8) additional plots for resident farmers. That’s a 125% increase in the number of plots that we’ve been able to provide with the use of these funds. And they’ve been put to very good use! Our publicity of these types of projects has resulted in creating and/or uncovering an appetite for these types of healthy eating projects in the community. Not only have residents who are just hearing about the gardens at the end of the season requested a plot next year, but other individuals, including a food activist have reached out to us to initiate similar programs in Bloomfield; one of which is the edible pop-up garden that we planted at the Library. One of the latest developments is that one of the gardeners has assembled a 3-bin composting system from scrap wood. So now our gardeners can put their raw kitchen scraps and plant material there to decompose and instead of going to a landfill. The gardens were also donated to and recognized by the Glen Ridge Rotary Club.
Through this project, we have also researched the most effective types of bike racks and the places where they should be installed to obtain the most use from them. We also learned that our Board of Education currently has a policy that bicycles may NOT be ridden to school. This knowledge has revealed fertile ground for us to work together to change the thinking (and hopefully the policies) around active transport. In the meantime, the bike racks that we’ve purchased will be installed in any of our local parks that do not have one as well as at one of our supermarkets that has requested one.
We feel that this funding period has really created traction in the areas of healthy eating and active living here in Bloomfield. Our goal now is to keep that moving by creating/strengthening policies and partnerships to support these areas.